The First Thanksgiving
(the one your teacher never told you about)

Thanksgiving. Turkey and dressing, pumpkin pie and football. Parents going to schools to see their children in plays about grateful pilgrims and their Indian benefactors. The age old tale of the Indians bringing food to feed the starving pilgrims.

I hate to be the one to burst the bubble but that story is a lie. One started to cover what really happened all those years ago.

The real story was reserached by William B. Newell, former chairman of the University of Connecticut Anthropology Department. His sources included Documents of Holland, 13 volume colonial documentary History, letters and reports from colonial officials to their superiors and the King of England, and the private papers of Sir William Johnson who was the British Indian agent for the New York colony for 30 years. Here is what Newell discovered about the "day of thanksgiving".

The year was 1637...700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe gathered for their annual "Green Corn Dance" in the area that is now known as Groton, Conn.

While they were gathered in this place of meeting, they were surrounded and attacked by mercenaries of the English and Dutch. The Indians were ordered from the building and as they came forth, they were shot down. The rest were burned alive in the building.

The next day, the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared "A day of thanksgiving" thanking god that they had eliminated over 700 men, women and children. For the next 100 years, every "thanksgiving day" ordained by a Governor or President was to honor that victory, thanking god that the battle had been won.

Not exactly the happy gathering that everyone has been led to believe that it was. Instead of giving thanks for being alive, they were giving thanks for killing 700 people.

Before anyone starts looking for rope to string me up with, let me say that I don't want thanksgiving outlawed. This holiday is now a time to spend with family and loved ones and that is important, but so is telling the truth.

When you are gathered at that table laden with food...with family and friends gathered around it....look at that turkey...the food...the drink....and get a mental picture of what really happened back then....then say your prayers.

Bon Appitete.

© Tina Holder, Mesa, AZ

NOTE: When you look at that table laden with food that Tina mentioned, you might give a thought to the contributions on it from Native American people too. The turkey itself of course which is Native to this continent, but not europe. Corn or cornbread stuffing, yup corn is also Native to this continent and the South American continent. Cranberries, yes that's another one that is Native here. Potato, and sweet potato also. Squash, another that is Native here. Pumpkin for the pie? Yup, another that is Native here. I have seen a figure quoted that says 75% of the food products that feed the world everyday, were Indigenous here. Without our contributions to what is on that table, there wouldn't be much more than bread - wheat bread.

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© 1998 - 2003 Mike Wicks